Barbara Bush was known for being the wife of George W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States of America. She was the first lady from 1989-1993. Barbara was also known for being the mother to the 43rd president of the United States of America, George W. Bush and the 43rd Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush.
Barbara Pierce who we know famously as Barbara Bush was born on the 8th of June 1925 in New York City. She was raised in the suburban town of Rye in New York. Her father, Marvin Pierce, was the president of McCall Corporation, and she was a cousin to the 14th president of the United States of America, Franklin Pierce. The Corporation publishes Redbook and McCall’s a popular women’s magazines of that time. She was dedicated to conservation efforts being the chairwoman of the Garden Club of America.
Education and Her Early Age
Barbara schooled at Rye’s Milton public school from 1931-1937 for her primary education and later at the Rye Country Day School until the year 1940. She later went off to boarding school by the name Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina from 1940-1943. As a young girl, she was athletic, enjoyed tennis, swimming and bike riding. She got interested in reading early in life. Barbara will always gather her family and read to them in the evenings.
Barbara met her husband George Bush when she was 16 years old on one of her Christmas vacations which was in Greenwich, Connecticut. Then George was a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Their friendship went on for sometime before they became engaged after 18 months just before George went off as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot to the World War II. While at the war, George named three of his warplanes after her – Barbara I, Barbara II, and Barbara III. Their marriage held in New York, at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York with the reception at the Apawamis Club.
Relationship With George Bush
Barbara and George moved around the Eastern United States for the first eight months of their marriage. Within 13 years of their marriage, the couple had 6 children of their own who in turn expanded the George and Barbara Bush linage with 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren who came from the latter. In 1966 while George was campaigning as he was elected as a US representative in Congress from Texas, Barbara raised her children and occasionally joined him on the trail. She accompanied her husband in every position he was appointed. Being a wife of a Congressman, she got immersed in projects that interested her. The projects included numerous charities and Republican women’s groups in Washington.
She defended her husband’s experience and personal qualities when he decided to go for president in 1989. Barbara caused a huge stir in the American society when she supported the ratification of the equal rights amendment in addition to her being pro-choice on abortion. This placed her at odds with the conservative wing of the Republican Party led by the California Governor, Ronald Reagan. When George got elected with Ronald Regan in 1980, she became the second lady of America and thus a household name as she was the second lady for eight years. She made good use of this opportunity as he worked with several different literacy organizations as her son, Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia.
When her husband declared his intentions to run for the presidency, as you would expect, Barbara campaigned for him actively and was instrumental to his November 1988 winning. He was sworn in on the 20th of January 1989 and Barbara Bush became the First Land of US.
Being the First Lady, her cause was family literacy. She called it “the most important issue we have”. As such, she got involved in many literacy organizations and founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
She was struck by how much things changed for her that she would use a smaller car instead of the limousine offered. For her trips out of town, she sometimes traveled by train or with commercial flights.
In 1990, she gave the Wellesley College commencement speech and her speech was listed as number 45 in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 speeches of the 20th Century. She was more popular than her predecessor, Nancy Reagan, and her successor Hillary Clinton. This was because she carefully avoided controversy and she had few public opinions on contentious issues.
Barbara lived with her husband at the River Oaks Community in Houston, Texas when they left the seat of power in Washington. In 1999, she campaigned for her son, George W. Bush after he announced his presidential ambitions.
The late Barbara Bush stood at 5 feet 3 inches. Beyond this physical height, she towered more than this in the minds of all those that knew her as a former US first lady and mother of an ex-US president and governor.
Life, Illness, and Death Of Barbara Bush
Barbara lived a rewarding life. She had so many awards and had a legacy worth noting. She received the D.A.R. Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1982. Barbara subscribed membership to this revolution in 1985 and maintained her membership until her death. In the year 1995, she was honored with an award for the Greatest Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged from the Jefferson award which gives it annually. Also, she received the Miss America Woman of Achievement Award for her work with the literacy programs.
Barbara in her lifetime received a Phi Beta Kappa honorary membership from the University of Houston chapter in 2016, in addition to also receiving honorary degrees from other educational institutions. Notably, she got one from an elementary school named Houston elementary School which is located in a parkway village in a neighborhood that was recently named after her.
In 1988, Barbara was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. She later suffered from congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease. She was a heavy smoker for 25 years and had to quit in 1968 after a nurse condemned her smoking in the hospital after a surgery.
In November 2008, she got hospitalized for abdominal pain which was corrected with a minor surgery on her small intestine. She also had an aortic valve replacement surgery in March 2009. On New Year’s Eve of 2013, she was hospitalized for pneumonia and was released from the hospital a few days later. In April 2018, a family statement was released concerning her failing health. It stated that she has chosen to be home with family and seek comfort care instead of further treatment.
The former first lady succumbed to death in her Houston Home on the 17th of April 2018 at the age of 92. After her death, her funeral held on the 21st of April 2018 at St. Martins Episcopal Church in Houston and her burial was at George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.